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 Post subject: IE stealing website visitors and serving up Bing instead
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:40 pm 
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Posts: 208
Internet Explorer 7, I suspect, hijacks a website URL to put a user into the Bing search engine. It's only occasional. It may be limited to URLs without the protocol or the www. Maybe the public library whose computers I was using often enough to notice this was causing IE7 to do this, but the browser home page is the library's website, not Bing. I don't have access to most user settings. Maybe a couple of installations are slightly broken and they sometimes break a DNS lookup. But I suspect IE.

This is what I typed recently, a URL I often type:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Watchlist

IE7 took me here:
http://www.bing.com/search?q=en.wikiped ... IE-Address

When I finished a half-hour session at one machine and went a few minutes later to another machine in the same room, probably identically configured and probably run from the same server or server bank, I pasted en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Watchlist into IE7 and went straight to the Wikipedia login page, as usual.

The above URLs are not subject to typing errors, because I used copy-and-paste to copy the Bing URL, to extract what I had originally typed from the subsequent Bing URL, and to paste into the second session's IE7 instance.

I don't use IE8 enough to see if it does the same thing.

Once before at the same library, it did the same thing. I forgot what URL I used then, but the solution then was to trim the URL until only the first- and second-level domain labels were left (as in example.com) and then the browser found the site. That means that, before I trimmed the URL and if the longer URL was faulty, I should have gotten some other error message supplied by the domain's site. Bing is not an error message.

About a couple of days later, I reused the terminal in two sessions where the hijack occurred and, with the same IE and the same protocol-less URL, the problem didn't happen this time. I suspect a hijack at intervals. I don't know if the interval is based on time, number of visits, or other criteria.

Later, I did it again. I discarded all of the Bing URL except the part representing what I had originally typed, so no character was different, and this time I went through.

When Bing serves a page in response, it offers non-Wikipedia sites as an alternative. It denies that the site I wanted was findable. Thus, Bing misleads most users with ordinary understanding of how these thigs work.

I don't use IE8 often enough to test it. Apparently, one must use a browser rather a lot to encounter the effect.

Could you ask MS to arrange for every 100th user of IE to be taken to your website instead of whatever a user wanted to see? MS wouldn't charge very much per diversion, would they? Only kidding about that; you might not want a flood of random irrelevant visitors. But Bing might not mind.

Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: IE stealing website visitors and serving up Bing instead
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:09 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:44 am
Posts: 5880
There is no hijacking or conspiracy. <g> The behavior in question depends on which search providers you have set in IE, and especially which one is set as default. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: IE stealing website visitors and serving up Bing instead
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:09 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:36 am
Posts: 208
I was using the usual address bar, not Instant Search. If MS was refusing to honor the address bar because Wikipedia somehow wasn't in the Instant Search list in one IE installation, when the address bar is supposed to be sufficient, that's still theft. You have those handcuffs handy?


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 Post subject: Re: IE stealing website visitors and serving up Bing instead
 Post Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:41 am 
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Changing the default search provider in modern versions of IE affects how searching works in both the standard Address Bar as well as in the Instant Search bar (in older versions they could be set separately).

For example, I almost never use the Instant Search Bar as it is easier and faster for me to just type my search in the main Address Bar, and it's a habit I formed many years ago. For example, if I want to search for the words "collective delusion windshield", I merely type "go collective delusion windshield" in the main Address Bar (I could also precede the search words with "find" or "?", but "go" is easier to type <g>). When I hit enter, I am taken to google (since it is set as my default search provider), with a search for those three words already entered (note that the word "go" is not included). If I change my default search provider to Live Search, then the same entry in the Address Bar "go ...." takes me to Live Search (now Bing), with the same search terms entered.

For more information on IE and searching, see Search Provider Extensibility in Internet Explorer.

Bottom line: No "stealing", "hijacking", "theft" or conspiracy. <g> Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: IE stealing website visitors and serving up Bing instead
 Post Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:23 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:36 am
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I didn't use "go", "find", or "?". I suppose I should but I don't. So that wasn't it. I typed a URL minus "http://". That almost always results in the browser effectively prepending "http://" and sending me to the location specified by the URL. If the URL is not that of a search engine, the browser doesn't take me to a search engine or to a search engine results page.

I didn't change default search engines or turn that feature on or off or change anything about that feature. I'm not even sure I can, since it's a public terminal.

One could argue the browser as installed is confused by the entry starting with en (en.wikipedia.org). But it works almost every time in the same browser at the same machine the same day in other sessions. So then one could say it could happen with any browser. But it doesn't happen to me in Firefox on my personal machine.

I wondered if perhaps I had typed a space before the address bar entry. But my copy-and-paste and Bing URL trimming operations eliminate that cause.

Some officer giving a traffic ticket to IE will find an outstanding warrant. If IE obeys most of the time, it can tell that to the judge. Maybe the judge will "go" easy.


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 Post subject: Re: IE stealing website visitors and serving up Bing instead
 Post Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:14 pm 
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Quote:
I didn't use "go", "find", or "?". I suppose I should but I don't. So that wasn't it. I typed a URL minus "http://". That almost always results in the browser effectively prepending "http://" and sending me to the location specified by the URL.

That was in fact "it". The behavior is fairly specific, in that the appending of "http://" is called AutoScan, and that happens if you type a single word. However if you type multiple words, IE will do the AutoSearch as if you did type the "go", "find", or "?". I guess I type the "go" because it eliminates any ambiguity, and forces an AutoSearch even if I am searching on a single word.

Quote:
I didn't change default search engines or turn that feature on or off or change anything about that feature. I'm not even sure I can, since it's a public terminal.

Then the point is moot, since the AutoSearch behavior is obviously out of your control, so you must abide by whatever settings were established by whoever set up the system. In that case please take up any conspiracy theories with them. <g> Scott.


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